Category Archives: Justifications for Idleness

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Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 3

The self-indulgent celebration of our tenth anniversary continues by prying open the archives: the dusty, zippered compact disc binders full of Idle Time compilations. Prior to 2003, these are garish exercises in artist-specific primers. Adrift on the wide-open internet waters was a bounty of images, mp3s, and treasure-map signposts towards albums, singles, and recordings that we never knew existed. It was a grand time to be a pirate. Matt had his Your Music Sucks series, which seemed to specifically target my indifference towards bands like Son Volt and Supergrass. I adopted The Promise Ring’s “Make Me a Mixtape” as a battlecry for any number of mix-CDs. We mail-ordered labels and booklets in bulk.

It was Will’s What I Heard compilation that gave real direction to this operation. Following his lead, we shared our favorite albums with one another just prior to winter break in 2002. Initially, these discs included songs from 2000 and 2001. That was before the project took on radioactive parameters and, screeching with mathematical fury, threatened to destroy Tokyo to the hundredth decimal point.

We went from friends, happy to find common ground in something like 02’s Yoshimi, to bitter rivals, arguing vehemently over whether or not 03’s Hail to the Thief belonged on a year-end celebration of the best music. We were doing one list, one compilation, and affixing one name to the glossy inkjet-printed booklet: the institute of idle time’s top 20 records of the year. I even had the audacity (or foresight) to stick a little ® on there, even though I shamelessly stole the Jack White artwork from someone on the internet.

Continue reading Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 3

Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 2

Uncle Isey, the official historian of our collective, recounts our humble origins in the website’s About the Institute section. Admittedly, however, some of those early tales of Top 5 tomfoolery and mixtape mayhem have been either dismissed or disregarded as a mixed bag of half-truths and hyperbole. It’s much more interesting, after all, to say that Isey ate Beau Baca’s entire seven-layer burrito without asking rather than report that he unwittingly snuck a bite before realization set in. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, I’ve been told.

Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes, scouring through drawers of discarded memoranda and forgotten files actually turns up something of value. An original artifact of those halcyon days of yore was recently uncovered, serving as far more than just a time capsule reminder of idle days past. This gem of a CD-R, in all its archaic glory, gives us a glance at an early music-themed Top 5…

But it also gives us a bonafide anniversary date. Continue reading Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 2

Bad Sports Fans, Shut Up.

I’m getting a little tired of dealing with this. I’ve been analyzing the phenomenon for years now, and have blamed everything from Jim Rome to the internet to fantasy sports (discovery: they’re all partly to blame). But, my friends, it’s time to be more vocal about it: stop tolerating bad sports fans. Facebook is full of them. You know who I’m talking about. The know-it-all ESPN addict who changes his profile picture to a Saints logo hours before the divisional playoff game (and then swiftly changes it back to his grinning mug seconds after The Catch III). The sorority girl whose first sports-related status update in years is “let’s go Packers!!!!!!” (with additional exclamation points) but follows it up with zero admission of an end to her suddenly adopted sports season. The violently curse-laden sports expert who loves nothing better than telling you that your team is going to lose, but whose own allegiances seem to revolve weekly dependent on likelihood of success.

You see them all over the internet, where it’s easy to talk shit or feign expertise. You know where you won’t see them? In the real world, where fans gather to root for favorite teams, or in local stadiums where hometown pride actually means something. It seems to hinge very simply on the difference between who you think is going to win and who you want to win.

Let’s make this clear: there are two types of people for whom the think can take precedence over the want. The first is the professional (or habitual) gambler. This person needs to rely on whatever sports knowledge he or she has gleaned from watching and following sports. This, however, isn’t fandom. The gambler would be the first to admit it. That think  turns into a want solely because of a placed bet, and not because of any kind of genuine interest in the teams or players involved. Continue reading Bad Sports Fans, Shut Up.

Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 1

Those of you in the know are already aware that we have a big anniversary coming up. With any luck our annual Best Of music list will publish on that very anniversary date, thus kicking off in a very formal fashion The Year of Idle Time. Looking forward always forces us to look back, so this first peek into the Institute’s origins takes us all the way back to 2001, and a blog post that was originally published in Justifications on June 26, 2006:

In the spring of 2001 a friend and coworker left a CD on my desk at work. We were (and are still) in the habit of recommending music to each other constantly, labeling every new find and must-listen as the best thing since the last record we swore would save rock and roll. This CD had a different sort of note attached; it was a different sort of record and required a more appropriate hook to give it a place atop of my need-to-listen pile.

The note reads (I’m not insensitive to the photo’s lack of clarity or the hundreds of readers who visit from outside this community and are looking at a duct-taped Suicide Girl rather than a CD-R and its memo): “Mike, Turn off the lights and curl up with this record. It will wreck you like a ninth grade romance. Keep a hankie close by. – Will. Oh, Inverted World!”

The album was, of course, Oh, Inverted World, the sublime debut by New Mexico’s The Shins. And it is a record with a place.

I listen to a ridiculous amount of music. Tuesdays are my Fridays and the latter half of the week is spent in frenetic caffeinated states of stereophoria. Oftentimes a record gets one chance to grab my attention before it’s relegated to the back of the pack and has to wait for a window in the cycle of new releases and mood-specific mixes for a second shot at roping me in. Gone are the days when every CD in an undergrad’s backseat carried a story, a memory, a reflection of a time and event and place. Blame the internet, blame my attention-span, blame Bush, blame whomever you please… that’s just the way it is. Continue reading Idle Time: A Look Back, Part 1

Make Me a Mixtape

Hey Buddy: Win this Bearded Brian Bobblehead!

…and win this limited edition Brian Wilson bobblehead!

First off, let me thank Jimmy Chew for talking me into this year’s The Giant Race half marathon. And even after I said I’d run it, his incessant “have you registered yet?” reminders ensured that I got a bib number before it sold out.

Of course, it’s been a good long while since I’ve run any kind of marathon, full or half, and getting my legs up to speed has been a drag (especially since my old marathon training team has either moved to the east coast; given up running shoes for a bicycle; or just opted for the most sane alternative to running which is, simply, not running).

When training alone, scintillating conversation needs to be replaced with music. The iPod Shuffle figured to be a great running buddy: it’s lightweight, clips to my shorts, and holds two gigs of tunes. What really sold me was the way it could auto-fill itself from your iTunes library, guaranteeing an exciting randomized playlist and miles of “guess the artist” fun.

I went from thinking this was a clever little device, to thinking it was stupid, to thinking it was cleverly sadistic in the span of three runs. Granted, it’s been pulling from over 35,000 songs, but this miniature robot prankster somehow manages to jumble in as many forgotten spoken word tracks, bluegrass banjo disasters, and instrumental lullabies that it can find on my hard drive. Instead of having fun being surprised by a song and wondering, “who sings this again?” I yank out my earbuds wondering (sometimes audibly, which can be embarrassing if there are other runners about), “what the hell is this and why was it on my computer?”

Continue reading Make Me a Mixtape

T-shirts that Show You Care

Texting “redcross” to 90999 is certainly an easy way to donate ten bucks to the American Red Cross and its relief efforts overseas.  As Stephen Colbert pointed out on his show last night, however, iPhone users need to prevent the overzealous autocorrect function from turning the well-intentioned “redcross” into the somewhat snide rejoinder, “reactors.”  Colbert: “In which case I believe all the money goes directly to the radioactive leaks.”

The community-driven online t-shirt company, Threadless, in addition to being responsible for a good portion of my wardrobe, offers a chance to help the cause and promote awareness at the same time.  Jason Yang’s design, “Rebuild Japan” is just twenty bucks and 100% of the net proceeds goes directly to the Red Cross.

Snag one for yourself and one for your significant other. The only time wearing matching anything isn’t tacky is when it’s all about solidarity.

Gather ’round while I tell a tale of great men…

It’s Man of the Year award season again, and while the also-ran’s are busy preparing for the conclave to determine the 2010 winner, it’s time for the rest of us to look ahead to the potential events for 2011. Man of the Year. MOY. These phrases combined comprise 30% of my daily vocabulary. For the unenlightened, check out some bold words from the co-founders, inaugural year Viceroy, and perpetually disappointed-in-the-rest-of-the-field MOY 2008 champion:

http://www.manoftheyearcompetition.org/about/dfInterview.php

The short of it is, we have right here in the SF Bay Area a year long competition amongst the upper tank of manly men to prove who had the best year. The core of this competition being the individual events. We’ve had some hits like the paintball gun duel and the human corn maze, but in an effort to avoid flops I’m asking you readers to vote on your favorite. I submit mostly my own ideas or overheard gems because the 2011 kick-off banquet and gathering has yet to be held, so prepare for some updates in the near future.

Continue reading Gather ’round while I tell a tale of great men…

The artist formerly known as Coach Hastings

I was thinking I’d post my first blog utilizing a few of the great quotes referencing paths, roads, forks, etc. that people are to travel or have already travelled. Oh B.S.! What a cop out. I mean obviously we all go through life-facing choices and challenges, and who knows what good or bad may come of those choices. I’d like to believe it happens as it should.

I’ve been able to do many things in my years, some amounted to stacks of fun, where as others not so much. If I had to choose my favorite occupation of all time, I’d choose two. The first would be, teaching, I enjoyed the teaching gig very much, and worked with some characters (most of which are on staff with this blog). Many great memories and adventures were had. And eventually I will go back to it.

The second of my favorite jobs would most certainly be bartending, or el cantinero as our Spanish-speaking friends would say. A real funtime fulltime adventure. A job where my UC Davis Psych degree came in pretty handy, a job where I was afforded the opportunity to mix and taste a vast collection of libations. It is from this experience I will be posting.

Not So Fast, 2010

In his second installment of This Used To Be My Playground, Uncle Isey comments on the growing pains experienced by the segue period into each new decade.  2010, despite its efforts to kickstart a new era (what’ll we end up calling this? The teens?  The tens?) will undoubtedly still bear many distinctive connections to the aughts. And when not locked in this identity crisis, wavering in our future reflections as the Year Without a Decade, it’ll likely be referenced in the history books for things like a Haitian disaster, Icelandic volcano, and a Mexican Gulf tarring.

Being ever the optimist, however, I have quickly pulled together a list of things for which 2010 will be remembered quite fondly, at least in my mind.  My Top 5 2010 Highlights.

5. Epic Awesomeness at The Movies

There are certain years that bear rather immediate associations with some of my favorite films.  1977, 1994, and 1998, along with whatever else was going on at the time, will always make me think of Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Shakespeare in Love. This year we were treated to not one, but two future classics: Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Comic books, video games, and rock n’ roll. The only thing that could have made Pilgrim more endearing to me personally would have been folding in baseball and staging it in Sweden. And as much as I enjoyed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comics, this film is truly a rare feat: a movie that might actually be better than the source material.

Continue reading Not So Fast, 2010

Am I doing this right?

Hello.

To get the blog ball rolling, I’m just going to repost something from last June that I uploaded to a little underground google group of the same name. This is all new territory to me, but I’ve always felt that the general public needed to be more aware of my daily musings and groundbreaking insights.

Revelations in Traffic [Now with bonus revelation and updates!]

1. A cool haircut is 90% the product of a cool face. The same goes for fashion trends. If enough attractive people start doing the same thing where the masses begin to notice, the fad will catch on regardless of the validity of the thing itself. Eventually enough unattractive people adopt the same trend until it becomes glaringly obvious how stupid it looks. So here’s to the final few months of retro neon 80s sunglasses, folks.
 

2. If you got rid of the tamale husk and reduced the Chicago deep dish style to a more foldable and less overpowerinig thin crust pizza in the taco town taco joke from SNL, you’d have a pretty amazing meal. If I remember, there was: a soft taco, crunchy taco, gordita, pizza, tamale, pancake, crepe, all adhered to each other with cheese, guacamole, refried beans, marinara sauce, and chili. All of those ingredients are thin enough to actually produce a viable wrap. Let’s make that wrap.

[Editor’s note: Done did. see it here:

http://www.manoftheyearcompetition.org/shenanigans/tacoTown.php ]

Continue reading Am I doing this right?